ClickHelp User Manual


When working with your content — authoring, editing, reviewing, etc. — you work with a project that is unavailable to your readers. Only logged-in Contributors have access to it.

For the content to become available to the readers, you need to publish your project — i.e., create an output in one of the formats supported by ClickHelp. The publishing process creates an online or downloadable version of your project, taking a snapshot of the project at the moment of publishing.

Online Documentation

One of the most peculiar output formats — and the one that ClickHelp is famous for — is an online publication. It is the most feature-rich output of a project among all other output formats. And unlike other formats, online publications are hosted on our servers and available on your portal right after the publishing is finished.

You don't have to think about delivering your publications to your readers — they will see your documentation on your portal Home Page and can access it via direct links. With time, it also becomes available on search engines like Google — unless you disallow this or restrict your publications, i.e., password-protect them.

Reader Interface

Simply put, the content that you write is placed into an entirely different interface when presented to readers when they open a publication. And although the content styling stays the same, the surroundings are different. The Reader UI has many features that ease navigation and improve the experience for the readers, like the Breadcrumbs, See Also and Related Topics lists, search bar, Feedback Widget, and so on.

For different Reader Interface Templates, the width of the content area is generally narrower than what you see in the Topic Editor in the authoring interface. This means that some elements like large images, wide tables, Code Samples, and other elements may look different to readers. To check how your content will look for the readers, you can use the Reader Preview.

Online publication creation

Publishing a ready manual and creating an online version of the project is a matter of a few clicks: Publish Manual.

You can publish as many versions of your manual as you want — the number of online publications a single project can have is not limited.

When creating a publication, the system automatically generates a publication ID based on the publication name; you can change the ID at the time of publishing. A publication ID is used as a part of the URL to the published topics. Remember that publication IDs must be unique across the entire portal — they can not match project IDs either.

A publication ID in URL

Publications are made to be as static as possible so that when you make changes to the project, they are not affected. Therefore, the system creates a folder in your portal's File Storage with a name based on a publication ID. All files from the corresponding project's folder, including styles and scripts, are copied there.

For example, if you start creating a publication named User Guide Version 2.0, the system will automatically generate an ID user-guide-version-2-0. Then, ClickHelp will create a folder with the same name. 

Thus, the Getting Started topic within this publication will have the following URL:!user-guide-version-2-0/getting-started

Online publication update

After you create a publication, you can update it at any time to keep it up to date with your project. You can fully replace an existing publication with the contents of your project with a couple of clicks. Or you can update only a part of it — a single topic or a set of topics — by utilizing our Partial Update feature. Partial Update allows you to push the changes made in a project to a publication affecting only selected topics, keeping others untouched. This allows for faster delivery of the finished documents — you can push individual topics as soon as they are ready without waiting for the whole project to be done.

To get started with the Partial Update, take a look at these resources:

It is also possible to edit topics in a publication directly. And while it can be great for making a quick fix, if you don't make the same changes in a project, the system might override them with the next publication update.

Online publication protection

You can set up restricted access if you want to make your online manuals available only for registered users. Only the Power Readers — users with an account in your ClickHelp portal who can access publications only — to whom you gave access to a specific publication will be able to open that publication. Read more about creating restricted manuals here: Restricted User Manuals.

For readers, it's not necessary to remember a separate set of credentials unique to the ClickHelp portal since you can set up authentication with one of the Single Sign-On providers or token-based authentication.

In addition, you can make a publication Private so that only contributors can access it, which may be helpful for the internal review, for example.

But creating Private and Restricted publications is not the only way of protecting your documentation in ClickHelp. There are other methods.

Downloadable Manual

Creating a downloadable manual is very similar for each of the supported formats. If you're looking to jump straight to the action, here are links to guides on some of the most popular formats:

After you create a downloadable version of your project or a publication, the system will save it in File Storage. You can download it if needed — ClickHelp will show you the link and provide a download button on the last page of the publishing wizard — or leave it in its place and give your readers a direct link.

Note that you can generate a downloadable version both from the project and the publication, but you can't create an online publication from an online publication — obviously.

Among downloadable formats, there are a few that are considered printed. These are PDF, DOC/DOCX, and RTF. They are different — vastly so — from other downloadable formats since they don't operate with HTML and CSS but have other underlying technologies and, consequently, their limitations. So, when generating them, ClickHelp makes specific conversions. That's why there may be differences between the content in the Topic Editor and the printed document. You can learn more about printed format creation specifics here.

Outputs, including printed ones, can be configured. For example, you can style the automatic Table of Contents, add page numbers, set the paper size, etc. — all this in your usual environment — Microsoft Word, by setting up a Word Template. Alternatively, if using MS Word is not an option, you can save a specific set of options by creating an Export Preset with Manual Setup.

In certain cases, you might need to get your ClickHelp documentation in a "pure" HTML format so that your HTML files contain only the content of the topics — without the TOC and reader UI. Such a need may appear, for example, if you want to create the documentation in ClickHelp, but publish it in another system. ClickHelp allows you to do it; you can create such a "pure" HTML output following the steps provided in Create an HTML Manual.